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Understanding the Management of Volunteers through a Three Way Psychological Contract: Manchester Event Volunteers Geoff Nichols: University of Sheffield.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding the Management of Volunteers through a Three Way Psychological Contract: Manchester Event Volunteers Geoff Nichols: University of Sheffield."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding the Management of Volunteers through a Three Way Psychological Contract: Manchester Event Volunteers Geoff Nichols: University of Sheffield Rita Ralston: Manchester Metropolitan University 1

2 Manchester Event Volunteers Part of M2002 Commonwealth Games legacy Broker between volunteers and event managers Advises events on good practice Provides training opportunities, employability support to volunteers Publicises events MEV website & newsletter Database of 1,500 active volunteers Supports over 150 events a year 2

3 Research Objective Examine relationships between volunteers, event managers and a broker organisation using the theoretical framework of the psychological contract Three relationships & sets of expectations Volunteer / Event Manager Volunteer / MEV Event Manager / MEV 3

4 Psychological Contract “An individual’s belief in mutual obligations between that person and another party such as an employer.” (either a firm or another person) (Rousseau and Tijoriwala, 1998 p.679) Subjective - a ‘subjective deal’ But Pearce has critiqued the value of contract as metaphor (Pearce, 1998) 4

5 Psychological Contract Content / features / evaluation - but are these transferable to volunteers? Assumes a tool to exercise management control – so only need to understand employees’ views: but volunteering may not be like that Sources of expectations may come from outside the employer / employee relationship i.e. the way people think about volunteering 5

6 6 Three Perspectives on Volunteering as Leisure Unpaid Work or Service Activism Serious Leisure (Billis,1993)

7 What’s different about this research? Starts from focus groups and other work with event volunteers to determine content of the PC – not from employees Juxtaposes views of volunteers and managers and a broker organisation Relates expectations of the contract to expectations of volunteering as leisure 7

8 What’s different? Builds on a previous study Nichols, G. and Ojala, E. (2009) Understanding the management of sports event volunteers through psychological contract theory. Voluntas. 20. pp.369 – 387 Newham Volunteers – hybrid of MEV 8

9 Research Methods Interviews with MEV manager 2 focus groups of 22 volunteers Volunteer questionnaire – 271 usable responses Interviews with 8 event managers Interview with former M2002 legacy manager 9

10 Volunteers’ Expectations of Event Managers – contract content Clear instructions on what to do Thorough briefing Right equipment to do the job To be organised effectively Who to ask if they need help To be treated with courtesy 10

11 Volunteers’ Expectations of Event Managers – contract content ” I would get there for one o’clock and they were all in meetings and there was no-one there to tell me what to do. So in the end I just said that I can’t go any more.“ “ I volunteered for the UEFA cup last year. They gave me a call and asked my sizes and they said ‘ We’ll put you down in centimetres’ and they sent me back a kiddies uniform ! And they expected me to wear it, I felt really insulted.” 11

12 Volunteers’ Expectations of Event Managers – how managed Not to be patronised To be treated with respect Experience gives a right to responsibility and autonomy (serious leisure ) But for some – just do as told as see volunteering as unpaid work. 12

13 Volunteers’ Expectations of Event Managers – how managed.” 13 “ just because you volunteered doesn’t mean that you can do anything you like – you don’t have the freedom to do just as you like, you’re still in a role and the role must be kept, full stop (for me), and I like it quite strict, I like to know the rules and I obey them as they are (personally).”

14 Event Managers’ Expectations of Volunteers Reliability Commitment Enthusiasm Experience Often contrasted with other sources of volunteers, e.g. students or employees 14

15 Event Managers’ Expectations of Volunteers “ They came to it just with true passion and integrity and enthusiasm because they are genuinely interested and they gave their all to the project.” 15

16 Event Managers’ Expectations of Volunteers “The other bonus I think you get from having an organisation like MEV is you get that ‘crew culture’ thing. They’re committed to doing a good job, not just somebody who’s just walked through the door and doesn’t care about anyone else who’s there. One of the people had missed a bus and was mortified! They weren’t mortified that they’d missed the bus and so they didn’t get to the event to be a volunteer, they were mortified that they’d let down their other volunteers who were with them. “ 16

17 Event Managers’ Expectations of Managing Volunteers “ If it’s a paid person, you can be more forceful, ‘right can you just go and do that?’ whereas if it’s a volunteer you have to take into account their feelings, the fact that they are there off their own back. If they want they can just walk out and you’re so reliant on them you have to take into consideration their feelings or emotions.” 17

18 Volunteers’ Expectations of MEV Longer term relationship Brokerage & awareness of events & volunteering opportunities Flexibility Reassurance Social aspects Good personal relationship Training & employment opportunities 18

19 MEV’s Expectations of Volunteers Reliability Follow training guidelines Appropriate behaviour Respect other volunteers Represent MEV 19

20 Event Managers‘ Expectations of MEV Convenience of broker service Reliability & experience of MEV volunteers Relationship with MEV Placement of volunteers 20

21 MEV’s Expectations of Event Managers Agree to code of conduct Standards of event operations Standards of volunteer management Limited use of volunteer data 21

22 Conclusions The Psychological Contract The different type of psychological contract is evident in MEV / volunteers relationship But not in MEV / event managers relationship 22

23 Conclusions The Psychological Contract Volunteers’ expectations can be related to their expectations of volunteering as leisure (serious leisure v unpaid work) Managers ‘ expectations of what volunteers bring to events is related to the experience of volunteering as leisure 23

24 Conclusions The Psychological Contract Thus the psychological contract has to take into account: Differences in the content for volunteers Differences between the content of the contract and the nature of the contract The influence of expectations from outside the immediate relationship – expectations of volunteering as leisure (freedom, serious leisure / unpaid work) 24

25 Conclusions The Psychological Contract Value of the juxtaposition of views For volunteers, managerial prerogatives gives way to a negotiated relationship A contract might be a less useful metaphor than a social gathering for volunteers (Pearce, 1998) 25


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